St George's Bickley or Raglan?

(32 Posts)
Tuskar77 Fri 03-Jul-15 21:47:45

Hello! We are moving from another borough and our son will join a primary school in September (hopefully!). We will live in the Chatterton Road area and the nearest schools are Raglan and St George's. I have met the Head at St George's who is very impressive and the results are excellent. I understand the school was not always like this but it seems on a good track now. Raglan is much nearer to us but on paper it seems less impressive. SATS results have been average in recent years (as far as I can see) and I think the Head is temporary?? I need convincing as to whether Raglan is stable and has a good academic reputation. People seem to rave about it and I know it has a small catchment area, so I'd like to understand why it's so well regarded. Thanks so much in advance for any thoughts or advice.

Patry Thu 09-Jul-15 06:21:37

Hi Tuskar

I am waiting to hear about this too! We will be applying this September.

What I know so far:
The head teacher in Raglan is temporary. She is an Ofsted inspector. The previous Head left after many years and this temporary Ofsted inspector provided a good link to then find a good head.
The new head is currently working in a school in Lewisham with 90% ethnic minority pupils and the highest possible level of deprivation. Yet the school is good. The ofsted report praises them a lot. And the academic results are above average. She sounds great but of course it's a risk choosing it now as we haven't seen her work here.

St George's has been problematic in the past. The academic results in St George's have never been bad. Bullying has always been an issue there. I hear the new head has done an amazing job to change that though. That is the word on the street. But then I heard of someone there last week wanting to change because of the bullying.

All schools have up and down periods - yes, independent schools do too. It's something to expect.

Now, it just happens that Raglan and Scotts Park have had their down period over the last 2-3 years. This has possibly changed the catchment for St George's and their results. Scotts Park changes def impacted on Parish for example.

As far as I know Scotts Park has just come back up so kids are choosing to go there again.

Re results in Raglan, I wouldn't look at SATs that much. If you know teachers and head teachers they will tell you they aren't the best guide. But of
Course you need a guide. Well, in addition to the school itself Raglan has a class for children with speech needs: slight symptons of autism, cleft palate, down syndrome... They count for the average results in SATs and of course they don't achieve as high.

I have personally asked various schools for their secondary schools transfers. Raglan had last year as far as I know had 3 girls going to Newstead, 2 boys to St Olave's, 2 to Chis & Sid, 1 to Beths and 1 to another selective. St George's were very dismissive and didn't want to tell. I didn't like their secrecy.
Another point parents around here make around Raglan is the community. Do you like the parents in the area? Also one parent said to me the good side of having a small catchment is that bullying can't escalate. All parents know each other and live so nearby that of course kids do ugly things but everything gets sorted directly early on - every family speaks to each other. Most children walk to school and things get talked about.

So Raglan sounds sweet to me. But like you, I'm still trying to find an answer. We'll go to all the open days this autumn. But please would you share what you hear?

Patry Mon 13-Jul-15 06:49:07

I just wanted to check if you had heard any more about this

Tuskar77 Tue 14-Jul-15 19:26:27

Thanks so much for your feedback Patry, it's really helpful. I'm afraid I don't have any more info and I'm rather at the mercy of where there's a space in September as my child will go into a junior year. I like being part of the local community which is something my family has where we currently live, with my child's school only being round the corner. Raglan would be closest for us. However, I am told we can't view it until a place is confirmed, so I'll have to wait and see. We were warmly welcomed at St George's and we did like what we saw and heard. I'll let you know what happens and if anyone has any insights into these or other nearby schools I'd be really grateful. Thanks!

FloraPost Mon 20-Jul-15 11:42:58

Patry, the speech and language unit is purely that; it is not for children with autism or Down Syndrome. The main school is very inclusive though and, unlike some schools, doesn't try to wriggle out of taking children with additional needs.

Patry Tue 21-Jul-15 15:54:06

Hi FloraPost

I had heard it is very inclusive and I think that is a good thing in fact.

Do you know any more about the school? If your children attend it, would you recommend it?

Thanks Tuskar77. I hope you get a school you like. To be fair, I think there are a few good ones around and a lot of nice families.

judithp39 Wed 29-Jul-15 18:53:33

Just reading through this and wanted to put view across. Both my children went to St George's, my youngest left in July. They both did exceptionally well academically and socially and never experienced any bullying and both said they never witnessed any. They thoroughly enjoyed the primary school years, made good friends and my eldest went in to top sets for every subject at Ravenswood (awaiting to hear how my youngest did in CATS) so I can honestly say I would recommend St George's. The new head has a real vision for the school and is very quickly achieving it.

Patry Sun 02-Aug-15 20:19:19

Hi Judithp39
Thank you very much for that. It is really interesting and since I wrote this you are the second person who says their kids went there and did not experience bullying.
It's strange because I have heard lots of people talk about bullying there.
It's always hard to make these decisions I think and it's hard to know what is true or not and even to get out specific views from parents.
Do you know children who went to either Bickley or Raglan and do you know how they rated them?

Endymion Sun 02-Aug-15 20:30:00

Can I just say that I believe that every single child who went to selective last year (so current year 7) from raglan was tutored?

I really agree that SATS are not the be all an end all. Equally, superselective entrance does not prove anything about the school, but perhaps says more about the parental expectations and access to tuition.

I have heard great things about raglan and St George's. It's really hard though, because word of mouth can be just as flawed as SATS and ofsted - it depends who you're talking to! smile

My children go to a less desired/destination primary locally. They have done and are doing very well. Have never been bullied or seen bullying. Achieving well academically and socially are nurtured. But I know that other parents would describe a different school because of their personal perspectives. I do think we are quite lucky in bromley to have so many great schools.

judithp39 Sun 02-Aug-15 20:45:25

Hi Patry,
I have friends whose children went to Raglan, one set of parents happy with school, the other definitely not. I believe this was because their child has SEN and the matters were never handle sensitively. The parents also said there were issues with the head and high staff turnover. I something's wonder where the 'bullying' rumours come from! I have genuinely never had one of the parents that are friends with me mention bullying. Put it like this, if I were to have another child (which I am not!) I wouldn't hesitate in choosing St George's, it really was a all round fab school for my two. Hope this helps! As mentioned above, we are lucky in Bromley, we have a wealth of good schools. Good luck.

Patry Tue 04-Aug-15 11:01:40

Thank Judith

I think issues with children who have SEN are always difficult. Raglan takes on quite a few kids with SEN and many parents are always going to be dissapointed with the way their issues are treated. It's really hard and an absolute shame of course. This is especially harder since there have been a lot of funding cuts to the extra support that used to be provided for children with SEN.

I know about the staff turnover. But then I'm not sure what to make of it. Basically, the old head teacher left and as it always happens in this situation many teachers did too. St George's went through these changes too a few years ago and I think all schools will go through it at some point. That is why it is hard to make a decision now about what is going to happen over the next 7 years. I think they did very well appointing an interim head who is an ofsted inspector instead of just quickly appointing anybody.

Of course, however, it leaves me having to decide about a head and new team before I can see their results.

But I'm pleased to hear your good comments about St George's. And you're right. We're lucky to have a good number of really good schools. We should definitely be within the catchment of both Raglan and St George's and may be able to be in the waiting list for Pickhurst, Hayes or Bickley. So let's see.

I just thought it would be easier to make the decision. It isn't at all.

Patry Mon 24-Aug-15 08:33:49

Endymion, I do know one child from Raglan who passed the 11+ last year and wasn't tutored. I don't know the others.
However, isn't that the case for most schools? Even in expensive preps parents still pay (on top of the school fees) to tutor the kids for the 11+.

I have asked a few teacher and head friends to check around and they all say both heads in Raglan (the one starting now) and St George's (the one that's been there for a couple of years) are now very good. So let's see. I guess we're lucky if we have to good choices aren't we?

Patry Tue 22-Sep-15 13:42:43

Just trying to revive this.
Anyone with more views on this? As these two schools are close to me.
I know Raglan's latest Ofsted wasn't great but considering the changed they have gone through, when I read through it I can see a lot of positives.
Then, on the other hand, I know SG's seems very good now. Is it sustainable? It was requiring improvement before - even if only officially.
Really hard to make the choice.
Overall, I want a happy school for the kids.

Leelaseye Wed 23-Sep-15 21:43:28

Argh, I just wrote and lost a long post about how when I was in a similar dilemma last year between St George's and Bickley Primary, it was essentially my gut instinct that St George's would be the better choice for my child that made my decision (despite originally thinking that I was sure to choose Bickey which was the better school on paper).
I don't know anything about Raglan, but if it helps, my new reception child is very happy and has settled well at St George's.
Good luck with your decision!

UnderTheF1oorboards Wed 23-Sep-15 23:45:41

OfSTED is, IMHO, utter bollocks. What did you think when you went to look round the schools?

Patry Thu 24-Sep-15 20:19:16

Thank you Leelaseye
I think everyone I know in SG's reception class seems happy.
But then everyone I know in Raglan seems happy too.

Again, it's nice of course that we have a choice of too apparently good schools isn't it?

Thanks. I agree ofsted isn't the best indicator. Even if it was good, it only indicated the past, not the present let alone the future.
I don't know what I thought of the schools because I haven't been yet. I'm applying this year so I will be going around next month and I'm trying to gather enough information beforehand. I have been to another school's open day and I do not think you get that much information out of a 1.5hrs visit where they choose what to show you anyway.

UnderTheF1oorboards Thu 24-Sep-15 21:32:06

I disagree. Last year we looked round Raglan (twice), Bickley, St George's, Hayes, Prince's Plain, Southborough, Tubbenden and Burnt Ash. The differences between them were immense in terms of the ethos, how much of a gloss they put on things, the children's behaviour, how accessible the staff were, etc etc. The open days and the way the staff conducted themselves were a real eye opener.

Think what's important to you and for your individual DC. Do you want an inclusive and diverse school? Or a very academically focused one? Would your DC thrive in a open-plan reception with 60 peers or would it overwhelm them? How important is it to you to have a mix of male and female teachers? Do you want extras like forest school, sports and after school clubs? If you need breakfast club or after school club, is there one, how many DC does it take and can does it accept reception children? Will your DC be happier at playtime if all the pupils are in the playground together, or if the reception and Y1s have their own dedicated area?

The one that stuck out for me was Bickley. Beautiful school; bright, engaged, studious and polite children, great record, very focused and helpful staff. I couldn't say a word against it. It would have been utterly the wrong choice for my DC.

When you see the right one, you will get a feel and you will know.

VanillaLatte13 Fri 25-Sep-15 10:36:32


On a funny note be careful with statements with diversity, I got literally smashed from mums regarding my statement about the council estates areas in Lewisham in another topic :-)
The less competitive environment was the main reason for us to relocate. The farest we stayed away from this environment the better for DC.

DC now have started in Scotts Park. I read the Oftead requiring improvement, however I must say the difference from our 'Good' rated school is massive in advantage to scotts.

Regarding 11+ none of the primary schools (same applies for indies) familirises the pupils with verbal/non verbal reasoning. You will definitely need a tutor or a course for the preparation. Our first tutor works in Central London Independent schools and advised that there is a massive competition between children from private and state schools, so I would not rely purely on the reputation of the primary school.

We wanted Bickley as well, but live closer to scotts. I thought DC will start school quicker if we are 10 minutes walk distance rather than 20 from Bickley.

DC are very happy so far at Scotts, we felt very welcomed on the first day.

Patry Fri 25-Sep-15 21:49:30

Thank you both.
That is really helpful.
I have only been to one open day and nothing huge stood up for me. But the questions/ issues you have raised are very important and I think will be very helpful for my next open day.
Thank you very much.

PettsWoodMum Fri 25-Sep-15 21:57:04

Slight correction some of the indies do prepare for 11+ or common entrance. I'm particular Bickley Park and Braeside. They don't have senior schools so are partly judged on their destination schools. Braeside has quite an intensive programme for those who want grammar. I have friends who have had children at both. In comparison my DD at a selective girls independent where eleven plus is discouraged and talking with friends at local state schools they getore support than DD does.

PettsWoodMum Fri 25-Sep-15 21:59:00

p.s sorry for the numerous typos - silly autocorrect.

Patry Sat 26-Sep-15 06:04:30

Yes, I know people in Breaside too.
I thought Bickley Park did have a senior school.
My children are so young I don't even know if grammar would be for them. I take it only as an indicator of how much parents cared for their children's academic development. So I don't think the school itself is better or not depending on how many kids pass the 11+ and when it comes to places like Braeside, it probablh wouldn't be my choice. But the 11+ rate does indicate parental choice I think.

PettsWoodMum Sat 26-Sep-15 07:32:54

Bickley Park goes up 13 so is a true 'prep' for those independents or even state secondaries like Cranbrook that only take entrance at 13. I was only mentioning them as someone said no schools prepared for 11+. Yes it does all seem far away when they are little! The time however does go very quickly indeed!

Patry Thu 15-Oct-15 14:07:37

Raglan have started tweeting and it looks like a really sweet, considerate and engaging school.
I like what I am seeing

UnderTheF1oorboards Mon 19-Oct-15 07:06:35

Indeed it is. May I suggest, if you're seriously considering Raglan now, finding out a bit more about the speech and language unit. You might cause offence in the playground if you think it's for cleft palate, down syndrome and 'slight signs of autism'.

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